Sunday 12 February 2012


Hi guys and gals. Bit of a different one this week. Not a review, but I’m sure you’ll survive. And I needed to talk about something else today. So stop reading if you’d prefer a review. Or don’t. Either way, it’s my blog and I really need to write about motivation a little.
I just wrote a whole blog post about what motivates me to read books, but it wasn’t entirely honest. It’s not exactly what’s on my mind. So I deleted it. What I really want to speak about is motivation to write. And I don’t want to lie to the internet. That sort of thing can get you in trouble. So I better stick with what I mean.
My motivation to write has dipped a little. I won’t go into why, but it has. Mostly a confidence thing.
I’ve spent chunks of the last three years writing stuff. I finished a book that I’m not particularly proud of, and I’m half way through a second that I like more. I’ve enjoyed spending time on both. But if it started and finished there, I’m not sure that’d be enough motivation to keep me coming back.
I want to write well so that I have something worthwhile to share. It’s not enough for me to do it just for the sake of enjoyment. Of course, there’s vanity in it. I want people to think I’m good at something. Who doesn’t want that?
But it’s more too. I need it to be good. I need to be able to give over pages that can be read and built upon by the imagination of others. It hurts to think that I might give over something that will bore or be mocked or ignored. I want to create stuff that will plant you in your seat and make another world swirl around you. Stuff that you can use to make images in your heads, and voices and smells and emotions. I don’t want to write just for me. Whether you like it or not, I need for it to be a two way street.
I couldn’t do that with my first attempt. I’m proud I finished it, and I’m proud of bits of it, but I know it’s average. I have the rejection letters to prove it.
But I learnt a lot in doing it, and I went back to the well, and this time I honestly think I’m doing better. But good enough? I don’t know. And it’s a lot of time and effort for something that I’m not sure will work out.
I don’t know how to explain why I need it to be good without sounding like a jerk. Without sounding like I’m writing stuff just to be praised.
I play rugby too. And I enjoy that as well. But on a rainy day in December when we’re getting beat by 50 points (it’s happened), I do not enjoy it. And I don’t believe anyone else would either. It’s not enough simply to do it. There needs to be a point beyond your own enjoyment. There needs to be the odd victory. The odd moment of success to motivate you.
And for me to write, I need to believe that someone will read it and enjoy it. Someone I don’t know. Someone who doesn’t have to tell me it’s good because they love me and don’t want to hurt me.
Otherwise what’s the point? I can’t stand the idea that what I’m doing won’t be good enough to engage someone. I can’t stand the idea that I might not be able to share it. I can’t stand the idea, but I worry it might be true. This is important to me. But I worry that it’ll end up meaning nothing. That it’ll end up just disappearing.
I know this is all a bit woe is me. And I know it sounds like one long fishing expedition for reassurance. Which is why sometimes I find it hard to listen to reassuring words – they often sound asked for.
And I also know that I’ll probably get over myself soon enough. I’ll remember there are bigger problems in the world than the quality of my writing, and that I’m a pretty lucky boy in almost every way, and that self pity is a pretty unattractive emotion.
Maybe some marmite toast will help. It often does. I’m off to the kitchen to find out.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First of all let's deal with my biggest concern - you need to lay off the marmite. It is pure evil and something to be left quite alone. It is not even to be looked at.

Now I must at this point declare an interest. I am your brother in law. I know, I was as shocked as you when I found out. But what this means is that what I am about to say is almost certainly a biased view and exactly what you aren't looking for.

However I am going to tell you anyway. I enjoy reading your blog. I like your way with words and how you relate your experience of reading a book to the reader. I don't always agree with your rating. But then it is your rating, not mine, and books will always be enjoyed to different levels by different people. I have bought books on the back of your reviews which is surely the point of any book review - to persuade or dissuade someone from buying books. So surely that is an achievement right there already?

Where am I going with this? It is hard to tell. Maybe I should just give this comment a GBR score and be done with it (probably a 2 so far and that was mainly for the marmite introduction).

What I really want to say is that you shouldn't be disheartened. Your reviews are enjoyable to read. Your book (especially the beginning) was enjoyable to read. I genuinely laughed out loud at certain points in your book. That is not just a nice thing to say but a true story - ask Katie. That is another achievement right there. I don't normally laugh out loud reading books.
I am no expert in the field and no doubt there are faults in your work but you can't produce a masterpiece with your first effort. And no doubt it involves a lot of hard work and tough times to reach that goal of having written a book you are proud of and others can enjoy. If it was easy we would all do it. Sounds like a cliche (because it is one) but it seems to make sense to me.

Personally I think you will get there.

Take from these words what you will but I wanted to let you know my thoughts.